These past few days in San Diego were borderline crazy. The Dodgers turned over a huge portion of their roster. The Cubs and White Sox made all kinds of noise. The Phillies finally began their tear-down and, perhaps, their rebuild. The Tigers and Red Sox shuffled and reloaded. The Yankees acted like some small market team. The Marlins and Reds, well, we’re not entirely sure what they did. It’s almost too much to keep track of.
But that’s why HardballTalk is here, dear readers. Below are links to the highlights of these few days in December when the past season was put in the rear view mirror for good and the foundations for the next season were laid:
The biggest deal: Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. And here’s what the deal means for him, the Cubs and the Red Sox.
The next biggest: Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers to the Padres.
The Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal.
The White Sox signed closer David Robertson to a four-year deal. And the Yankees never even made him an offer. For that matter, the Yankees didn’t make an offer for McCarthy either.
But that’s not all! The White Sox also traded for Jeff Samardzija.
The end of an era in Philly: Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers.
Yoenis Cespedes (and some other guys) was traded to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (and some other guys)
The Tigers then traded for the Reds’ Alfredo Simon to replace Porcello in the rotation.
The Reds then traded another starter, Mat Latos, to Miami. Who’s gonna pitch in Cincinnati, you guys?
The Red Sox rotation makeover continued with the acquisition of Wade Miley and the signing of Justin Masterson.
The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami for Andrew Heaney and some other guys. Haren may retire, however.
Oh, and the Dodgers didn’t really want Heaney anyway: they flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick a few hours later. Heaney nonetheless looked back fondly on his many, many minutes as a Los Angeles Dodger.
The Twins signed Ervin Santana for $54 million
The Cubs re-signed Jason Hammel, showing that you can go home again. They also traded for Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero.
The Astros did some bullpen work: they signed Luke Gregerson and then they turned around and signed Pat Neshek.
The Veteran’s Committee had ONE job — to induct someone to the Hall of Fame — and it failed to do so.
The Rays reached an agreement allowing them to look for a new stadium. And, if they don’t get a new stadium, they’ll probably be sold and moved.
We learned that Madison Bumgarner once dated someone named Madison Bumgarner.
The Braves signed infielder/utilityman Alberto Callaspo.
The Royals signed DH Kendrys Morales.
Tom Gage of the Detroit News won the Spink Award. On the broadcasting side, Dick Enberg won the Frick Award.
The Angels acquired a guy who may be the worst hitter in baseball.
The Baseball Writers Association of America made a recommendation regarding the Hall of Fame ballot, but it was lame.
The Braves made an offer everyone will pretty much easily refuse.
The Pirates got Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies.
The Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Nationals
The Rockies sent infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for a good relief pitcher.
The Cardinals got Mark Reynolds for some reason.
Nyjer Morgan is raging against the dying of the light: he’s going to go play in Korea.
Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does best.
Finally, I ranked all 30 major league managers by handsomeness again. Because that’s what’s really important.
I think we all need a breather now. Baseball can stop for a few days while we get our bearings if it would like to. Indeed, that’d be much appreciated.
The Yankees have a level. Really. And it is apparently below 4/$48 million for a pitcher that they could probably use an awful lot:
Which is fine if the Yankees are, at long last, publicly committing to a rebuild and entering a phase where they are patient as their many bad contracts fall off the books. Which, really, they probably should at this point. But it is very strange hearing the Yankees talking about relatively modest ceilings for anyone.
Now watch: five minutes after I shut down and head for the airport they’ll give Max Scherzer $180 million.
The Tigers trading Rick Porcello made it seem like, maybe — just maybe — they were making some room to bring Max Scherzer back. But then they picked up Alfredo Simon and now they have, arguably, six starting pitching options. So, what does that mean for the Tigers and Max Scherzer?
When you’re a free agent, I guess you’re a “situation.”
If the Tigers are not in active pursuit that means, as far as I can tell, no one is in active pursuit of Scherzer. Which means that this may be a classic Boras-client-signs-in-late-January kind of thing.
UPDATE: The Sox are sending Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Detroit along with Cespedes.
10:18 AM: Ken Rosenthal says the deal is done. It’s Cespedes and two players for Porcello and a minor leaguer. We’ll update you when we know the names of the minor leaguers changing teams.
10:00 AM: Alex Speier of the Boston Globe says the Red Sox will send two additional players to the Tigers. Which makes this deal make more sense.
9:40 AM: The Tigers and Red Sox are pulling off a big trade according to Fox’s C.J. Nitkowski: starting pitcher Rick Porcello to Boston in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Porcello is a perfect fit for Boston who, as you may have heard, is in the market for a starting pitcher. He’ll turn 26 at the end of the month but he already has six full seasons as a starter under his belt. In those seasons he’s 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA and 655 strikeouts and 263 walks in 1073.1 innings. Those numbers have a lot of learning curve built into them, however — he started extremely young — and a lot of TERRIBLE Tigers infield defense over the years, which has hurt the groundball-heavy Porcello a lot. In 2014 he was outstanding, going 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA and 129 strikeouts against 41 walks in 204.2 innings.
Cespedes certainly has pop, an arm built for a big outfield like the one in Detroit and the potential to uncork an excellent season, but his on-base percentage — .294 last season, .316 in his three seasons, heavily weighted by his first one — is a major problem. Also: Comerica Park is not going to be the best place in the world for his home run stroke.
Both Cespedes and Porcello have one year to go before free agency.
Jon Morosi reports that the Tigers’ busy Thursday morning may not yet be over:
The Reds are making Mike Leake and Mat Latos available, though many teams are also inquiring about Johnny Cueto. The Tigers farm system is not stellar these days, so it’ll be interesting to see who they’re dangling for quality big league pitching.